Vista DUI Attorney Law Firm is a well-established legal firm serving Vista, CA with high standings in criminal defense. The criminal defense expertise is founded on attorneys who are well-versed with the law in any DUID (driving under the influence of drug or prescription) case and can adequately help clients who face these charges. Our skillful attorneys can use several legal defenses deemed valid by California law including claims that you were not intoxicated, your driving was not impaired in any way, there was poor procedure followed during an arrest or even false allegations.

What Type of Drugs Amount to a DUID Charge?

In California, the law under vehicle code 23152 (f) dictates that driving under the influence of a drug is unlawful. It views the driver to be under the influence of drug if he or she is unable or cannot drive in a sober manner as a result of any drug whether illegal or prescribed or over the counter. Committing the offense can also be as a result of a combination of alcohol and any drug as per VEH 23152 (g).

For the purposes of this offense, a drug is any substance or a combination of substances (other than alcohol) that could affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person, and could appreciably impair his or her ability to drive as an ordinary person. The drugs, in this case, include illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. It also includes legal drugs such as recreational marijuana.

Furthermore, prescribed medication (whether they can make a person high or not), and drugs which are bought over the counter famously known as OTC, are examples of drugs. Drugs that commonly lead to DUID charges include Ambien, Marijuana, and prescriptions of opiates including Vicodin or OxyContin. Any driver found to be under the influence of any of the mentioned drugs is considered to have committed a DUID offense.

What Type of Offense is a DUID?

A DUID case in California is considered a wobbler, hence, can either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the number of instances one been accused of the offense. For instance, committing the offense for the first, second, or the third times amount to misdemeanor charges. A felony charge applies if you commit the offense for the fourth and subsequent times. Besides, the charges would be a direct felony if there was injury or death to the third party.

To determine whether you are under the influence of drugs, the field officers may subject you to various tests ranging from field sobriety tests and breathalyzers to blood tests. The law doesn’t provide the legal limits in which the amount of drug in your system should be. Any amount that shows up in the blood test is legible for DUID charge.

To determine whether you are under the influence of drugs, the field officers may subject you to various tests ranging from field sobriety tests and breathalyzers to blood tests. The law doesn’t provide the legal limits in which the amount of drug in your system should be. Any amount that shows up in the blood test is legible for DUID charge.

What is the Importance of Blood and Breath Tests in a DUID Case?

Breath tests are usually the first tests to gauge drivers’ blood alcohol content and are performed at the roadsides. These tests, often conducted as preliminary alcohol screening tests, are initiated by the use of handheld breath testing devices such as breathalyzers. The breath tests are essential in DUID cases since they are fast, less invasive, and provide preliminary indications of whether a person is intoxicated. However, these field devices are prone to errors, and cannot establish accurate levels of alcohol in the blood. Also, they are not recommended for drivers with breathing conditions such as asthma. Consequently, blood tests are the preferred options for testing blood alcohol levels and other drugs in the blood.

Investigators prefer blood tests over breath tests since the former gives a clear basis over which the driver should be prosecuted. For instance, it gives wider options to the police to charge the driver in violation of:

  • Section 23152 (a) for drunk-driving offense;
  • California per se laws: section 23152 (b) for drunk-driving with over 0.08% BAC, sections 23152 (d) and 23152 (e)for operating a commercial vehicle with over 0.04% BAC and a taxi or limo with over 0.04% BAC respectively, and section 23140 for underage drunk driving with over 0.05% BAC.

Apart from ascertaining the exact alcohol percentages in someone’s blood, courts can store the samples for future testing –courts consider the tests valid provided that the officer followed correct steps in administering the tests. The blood tests are as well significant in DUID cases since they trace any drug used alongside alcohol by the driver.

Prosecution of DUI with DUID

1. Prosecution in Violation of Vehicle Codes 23152 (f) and 23152 (g)

If accused of VC 23152 (g); “driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs” the prosecution must prove that you drove the vehicle and during that time, you were under the influence of both alcohol and drugs. The prosecution must also elicit some facts relating to your driving under influence of drug such as the physical symptoms of intoxication, your unsafe driving, and performance in the breath test and field sobriety tests. A similar procedure applies to a person accused of violating section 23152 (f), with the exception of BAC tests. In the latter case, the trial can also prove that the accused is a narcotic addict –but with the exception of people pursuing narcotic treatment programs.

2. Prosecution Under Penal Code 191.5 (a) Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated

This law applies when a person drunk-drives with DUID and causes a wholly negligent act resulting in the death of another person. One is viewed to have committed gross manslaughter while intoxicated if it is established that, he or she drove or operated the vehicle drunk or under the influence of drugs; In the course of driving, he or she committed further crime referred as infraction act that in a way is likely to cause death.

3. Prosecution under PEN 187 Second-degree Murder

In case an individual has a prior conviction of DUID and kills while driving, second-degree murder prosecution can apply. It is also termed as ‘Watson murder’: The perpetrator is charged with implied malice; causing death without aforethought or otherwise the intention to kill, but the killing happens by deliberately engaging in an activity that led to the death. According to this law, the defendant will be charged implied malice because:

  • He/she intentionally commits an action which led to the victim’s death; in this case, drunk-driving or driving under medical prescriptions;
  • The results of the act which the defendant involved himself or herself in is a natural or the proximate cause of the dead –or the act in itself is deemed life-threatening. In this case, driving under the influence caused the victims death;
  • The defendant knew that the act he or she was involving himself or herself in was dangerous to the human life but did nothing to stop doing it. In this case, the defendant knew that driving under the influence is dangerous to human life. Under normal circumstances, he or she should not have driven;
  • The correspondent purposefully acted with conscious disregard of the human life.

However, before accusation based on Watson Murder, the prosecution must first carry out a thorough investigation to ascertain the allegations that the accused acted with disregard to human life. If the prosecution fails to provide the evidence, the court under its judge’s discretion will allow either gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under penal code 191.5 (a) or charges based on CVC 23152 drunk-driving.

Imposition of DUID Murder Charge would hasten because of several conditions, such as the accused (a) Had elevated levels of blood alcohol content typically above 0.15%; (b) Had been convicted severally for driving under the influence before; and (c) Engaged in careless and reckless driving characterized with over-speeding, participating in speed contest otherwise referred to as exhibition speeds, or sped while trying to evade the police.

What are the Penalties for California DUID Conviction?

A DUID offense is a wobbler. As for a misdemeanor, the severity and type of punishment will also vary depending on whether it is your first, second, or third DUID as follows.

  1. First offense: The penalties for the first DUID offense including but not limited to up to six months in jail, a fine minimum of 390 dollars and not in excess of 1000 dollars and a six months suspension of driving license. In addition, you may be required to take a probation and undergo driving exercise under a monitored program.

  2. Second offense within 10 years. Committing a second DUID offense within a time frame of 10 years after the first offense results in a jail sentence which lasts for 90 days to one-year, suspension of driving license for 2 years, and a probation.

  3. Third offense within 10 years. The penalties will include 120 days to one-year jail sentence, suspension of driving license for three years and a fine of $390 dollars at a minimum. In addition, you will be designated or labeled as habitual traffic offender (HTO) and 30 months driving exercise in a driving under the influence program.

At the fourth and the subsequent offense, the court will subject you to felony penalties whose charges are much severe and will include a jail term ranging from 16 months to three years, or 180 days to one-year imprisonment.

In addition, you will face revocation of driver’s license for four years. In case you have had convictions on DUI previously within the time frame of ten years, the court can sentence you to up to one year, you also pay a fine of a minimum of 390 dollars. In addition, you will be revoked of your driving license for a period of four years alongside a label that you are a habitual traffic offender.

Other additional punishments for felony DUID convictions incorporate six to ten years imprisonment in the California state prison and a formal probation in which the convicted must attend a DUI school not exceeding 30 months.

However, if it is found that you have had a prior conviction in areas related to gross manslaughter, the jury may hike the imprisonment term to fifteen years or in extreme cases, a life sentence.

What Are theLegal Defenses Against DUI with DUID Charges in California?

Being accused of this charge may have long-lasting consequences to one’s life; A DUI attorney helps avoid the life-changing consequences. The attorney applies different defense arguments as follow.

Driving Was Not Linked to DUI.

This legal position is normally taken when one is charged under vehicle code 23152 which sees it as illegal to drive under an influence of intoxicants. The accused or his/her attorney can argue that, although there was bad driving, there was no automatic link to intoxication. Before accused of driving under the influence, the prosecuting officers pay attention to ones driving pattern. If found that his or her driving pattern coincides with that of an intoxicated person characterized by over speeding or lacing on the lane, then the person would face the trial for DUID.

Physical Symptoms not related to DUI/DUID.

DUI arresting officers in California use some physical symptoms like watery eyes, slurred speech, blushing face, shaky gait, or even a strong odor of liquor. An effective legal attorney can defend the accused by challenging the prosecuting officer that the objective symptoms presented against the defendant were not the surest way to claim that he or she was intoxicated. The lawyer can also argue that the symptoms the defendant showed were linked to sensitivity reactions to some substances, tiredness resulting from long driving hours, eye problems, or even having a cold and/or flu. On such grounds, the lawyer can prove the accused innocent from the charges presented before him or her.

The inaccuracy of the Field Sobriety Test in Measuring Impairments.

One of the common pieces of evidence the prosecuting officers apply is the sobriety test results which gauge whether you were having instabilities related to intoxication. Some of the common tests include standing on one leg, walking on a straight line, or even eye checks. Failure to perform them perfectly may prompt the arresting and prosecuting officers to charge you with DUI. However, an expert lawyer can always challenge the test because the defendant’s imbalance and poor coordination were likely linked to fatigue, the type of clothing worn, nervousness resulting from fear, or even the shape of the defendant’s feet. Similarly, the attorney can claim that the test was inaccurate or rather performed by inexperienced officer hence not reliable.

False allegation.

To confirm that one is intoxicated, the officers use gadgets which detect the presence of alcohol in your mouth or have recently taken after which the alcohol content in your blood is compared with the legally unacceptable level. When found to be at or above the level, the prosecution charges you for DUI. An expert lawyer can defend the accused against this charge by claiming that, the gargets used may have been faulty, that the alcohol like taste resulted from, drinks, mouthwashes or even medicine that the accused had used before.

Reckless Driving Was Not Linked to DUI.

This legal position is normally taken when one is charged under vehicle code 23152, which makes it illegal to drive under an influence of intoxicants. CVC 23103 provides illegal actions that fulfill reckless driving. Under the latter code, a prosecutor can file charges of reckless driving if a person drives with willful disregard of lives and properties of others. Thus, it is easy for the prosecutor to file double charges in violation of CVCs 23103 and 23152. The accused or his/her attorney can argue that, although there was reckless driving, there was no automatic link to intoxication. Normally before being accused of driving under the influence, the following officers pay attention to ones driving pattern. If found that his or her driving pattern was in agreement with that of an intoxicated person characterized by over speeding or weaving over the lane, then he/she may be charged for DUI. An advocate with proficiency in legal matters can dispute this allegation by requiring the prosecuting officer to testify the reason behind the safe driving before the accident.

Wrong Test Procedures or Short Time Frame for Observation.

To ascertain that the accused was drunk-driving, the arresting officer is required by the law to first observe the person for at least 15 minutes before conducting the test. However, the officers can violate this regulation by only doing paperwork. A skilled attorney will defend the accused because the fifteen minutes observation was not adhered to and hence, the results cannot be valid.

Finding a DUI Vista Attorney Specializing in DUID Near Me

In California, DUI cases are always treated as serious offenses, resulting in harsh penalties. If accused of such a case, it is wise to find a criminal defense attorney to defend you against the allegation. At Vista DUI Attorney Law Firm, we have skilled attorneys who are well-versed with the DUI with Drug Prescriptions (DUID) cases. Besides, the firm’s attorneys can handle all crimes or charges relating to DUID. If faced with any charge of this kind in or near Vista, CA, feel free to contact our attorneys through 760-691-1540. Don’t suffer harsh punishments including long imprisonments, financial losses in settling fines or paying hospital bills and car repairs, or having limitations on your driving privileges. Our attorneys are ready to help.